Updated: Oct 1
We all experience stress and anxiety from time to time. It is usually attached to a specific circumstance or event and passes when that event is over. However, if it continues without any real reason, then it could be Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
When you think about anxiety and what that would look or feel like, you might imagine someone shaking, sweating and looking tense or nervous. However, anxiety doesn’t always show itself that way. So, I’m going to look at seven less obvious signs of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). If you’ve been experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you may actually be suffering from GAD and just not realised it. It is really important to contact your doctor to get any other causes ruled out, though, before deciding that the following symptoms are anxiety-related.
1. Physical Symptoms
We have all heard of “butterflies in the tummy”. When we get anxious about something, it often causes nausea and an upset stomach.
Chest pains can also be a sign of chronic anxiety, as can headaches and migraines. Even odd pains in the body can be put down to anxiety as we tend to tense up when we’re anxious.
If you have any physical symptoms, please make sure you get checked out by your doctor and make sure all other causes have been ruled out. Never assume your physical symptoms are due to anxiety.
2. Negative Thoughts
Have you been thinking about the future and dreading every moment? Do you tend to imagine the worst-case scenarios? Do you focus more on the negative aspects of a situation than trying to find the positive? Take a look at this blog for some examples of cognitive distortions and start to recognise those thoughts, question them and turn them into something more realistic.
3. Critical Inner Voice
How often do you really acknowledge the little voice in your head? What is yours saying? Is it supportive and loving or does it put you down all the time? We carry that little critical character around with us, so it’s important to keep it in check. If you’re feeling anxious, that little voice can make you feel so much worse. Think about the way you speak to yourself. Would you say this to your best friend? Change that voice into a supportive guardian angel, spirit guide, family member or inner cheerleader.
4. Chasing Your Tail
Do you feel you are always busy trying to get so many things done and yet you don’t get anywhere? Maybe you find it hard to focus or you feel you have so much to do that you just flit from one task to the next wondering where you should be spending your time? This is a sure sign of anxiety. Try prioritising tasks and, if possible, delegate each job to a different person. Give yourself a set number of things to do each day and make sure that you’ve scheduled in times for breaks.
Do you spend hours imagining the future or try to predict the outcome of an event and preparing for every eventuality? Do you worry about failing to the point where it stops you from even trying? Maybe you put off tasks or spend hours on them because you feel you need to get everything perfect. Procrastination, over-thinking and perfectionism are all signs of generalised anxiety disorder. Learning some good mindfulness techniques can help so that you are living more in the present moment. Confidence-building can also help.
6. Becoming Easily Startled
Do you find that you feel “on edge” a lot of the time and that you’re easily startled by things that don’t bother others? When we feel constantly anxious, our bodies are preparing to fight or flee and we feel as if we must be constantly alert to any outside threats. Any small noise can make us jump and this can make us very irritable, too. Try spending some time in meditation every day. When possible, get out into nature to allow yourself to recharge.
7. Social Anxiety
If you constantly worry about what others think of you, it could be a sign of generalised anxiety disorder. You might find that you can have a long conversation via messenger or email, but freeze and lose your train of thought when it comes to an actual conversation. Do you worry that people are judging the way you look, walk or talk? Again, social anxiety can stem from feeling generally anxious. Take a look at your thoughts and notice what you’re doing. Are you mind-reading and deciding you know what others are thinking about you before they even have a chance to speak?
I use a combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Hypnotherapy to help people overcome anxiety and step into their inner confidence. If you recognise some of these symptoms and would like some help, please book a 45-minute initial consultation and full assessment session.